Tribalism is the propensity to form groups. Each group defends against another group and seeks to acquire goods and status in order to wield more influence in the world. The world separates people into tribes based on race, sex, age, and social status. The Messiah calls us to abandon these worldly group distinctions, and only have one thing in common–Him.
Jesus himself said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.” (Matt. 20:25-26) He called his disciples to something different than the rest of the world. He called them adopt a new kind of being–a new tribe.
What is this new tribe? Who is invited in? The apostle Paul said, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)
In order to be a part of this new tribe, you must abandon your old identity, and adopt a new identity, or as Paul puts it, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6) and “and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Eph 4:24) (See also Col. 3)
And what is sin? The Bible Project defines it this way: sin is the failure to see others as being intrinsically valuable and made in the image of God, and thereby falling short in loving them according to that truth.
This is the problem with organizations like Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movement. It isn’t that we shouldn’t treat all people with dignity; it is that these groups are seeking to reestablish the divisions that God sent Jesus to abolish!
“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” (Eph. 2:13-16)
I believe that God wants us all to see each other within the context of one tribe, one human family, made in His image and likeness where all are worthy of love and inclusion and all have equal access to enter through the doors of God’s Kingdom. That is a big part of the Gospel message.
The book of Revelation tells of a future when a great multitude without number becomes one nation under the loving leadership of God.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,” (Rev. 7:9)
This has been the goal from the very beginning, to restore the true image of God to humanity. So how do we do this and bring the Kingdom of God into view? Perhaps it begins with those of us who are in Christ realizing that we are part of this new Tribe and that we cannot win anyone’s trust or affect real change by the same means with which the world does. We must demonstrate the Kingdom life by living Kingdom principles.
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:19-25)
I leave you with this last thought from John.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (I John 4:7-21)
Love and Light,